Jamie Schumacher noticed the discrepancy right away. Four years ago, she moved to the Twin Cities because of the vibrancy of the artist community in the area. She quickly noticed that her new home had not one, but two major art communities, one in Minneapolis, the other in St. Paul. She also noticed that they didn't talk to each other. For the most part, they didn't show their work together, they didn't collaborate and they didn't encourage their audience to check out the other city. There was a gap.
WHEN: Through April 27; Opening reception 7 to 10 p.m., Friday
WHERE: Altered Esthetics, 1224 Quincy St. N.E., Minneapolis
"Minneapolis vs. St. Paul," the latest show at Altered Esthetics where Schumacher is the executive director, is her attempt to highlight this divide, and perhaps do something to change it.
Featuring works by mostly local artists, and artists that used to be local, the works will be shown both at Altered Esthetics in northeast Minneapolis and at the Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar in St. Paul. The artwork will be placed in the gallery in the city opposite to what city the artwork focuses on. Art depicting St. Paul will be in Minneapolis. Art depicting Minneapolis will be in St. Paul. For example, a painting of the famous Grain Belt logo that faces the Hennepin Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis will be shown at the Black Dog.
Schumacher, with the help of two co-curators working with Altered Esthetics as part of an internship program, Erica Scanlon and Emily Peterson, asked about the artist's intent in order to place the works for the more abstract pieces where a location wasn't so apparent.
Artists had free reign within the theme of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Responses varied from Donald Van Auken's post-apocalyptic scenes of Minneapolis featuring freakish antelopes, elephants and dinosaurs to the designs of sometimes City Pages and Vita.mn artist Adam Turman's illustrated representations of iconic images like the trolleys of the last century and the light rail of today.
Pamela Valfer, an adjunct instructor at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, has a series documenting people sleeping on airplanes, complete with head tilted back and mouth hanging open. The works are part of her larger series studying contextual juxtaposition, where private becomes public, like the private moment of rest on a bench in the middle of an airport.
Kara Hendershot, one of the resident artists of Altered Esthetics, completed a work specifically for the show, inspired by an old warehouse across the river from her St. Paul studio, a warehouse similar to those that are being converted into condos all over the area as is so fashionable in the housing market today.
But why, then, is there a divide between the artistic communities?
"It's kind of like a rivalry," Hendershot said. Artists and audiences might hear of a show they would like to see, then hear the words, St. Paul, and decide that's just too far away, Peterson said, who lived in St. Paul and now Minneapolis.
"I feel like St. Paul is a much more relaxed atmosphere," Peterson said, "whereas Minneapolis is the place to go out."
"Minneapolis is where everything happens," she said.
Hendershot got more of a feeling of collaboration between artists from those in Minneapolis, and Schumacher agreed, but both admitted that may be because they are more involved with the Minneapolis scene so they see it more.
In Minneapolis, Schumacher said she sees artists getting together and curating their
"They've got a 'we're just going to do it' going on," she said.
Regardless of the imaginary divide between the two cities, Schumacher, Peterson and Hendershot agreed the area has an impressive and distinctive artistic community that provides support for their artists, both monetarily and emotionally.
While the art world is always competitive, artists don't find the hard-nosed competition of the East or West Coast here.
Hendershot called it "friendly competition," while Peterson added, "more Midwestern."
Schumacher called the Twin Cities the "hidden secret" of the art world.
"Minneapolis and St. Paul both have such great things going on for the artists involved."
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